The Finnish musicians perform Sibelius in Ravello

Hanna Maria Laakso


When the Finnish musicians Petri Kirkkomäki, Marika Hölttä and Tuula Hällström perform at the Sibelius Festival in Santa Margherita, Ligure in March 2017 the audience stands up in applause. The tones of Sibelius embodied by the Finnish voices have touched the Italian heart and soul.


Sibelius to the audience of the Amalfi Coast

The trio will perform at Ravello Concert Society Festival (the Historical Annunziata Building) on the 4th of October at 19.00. They look forward to performing Jean Sibelius to the audience of the Amalfi Coast since he is Finland’s best known composer all over the world as well as one of the most influential composers of his time. In addition to Sibelius, the trio will perform music by Oskar Merikanto whose style reminds of Finnish folk songs, but has its basis in Italian bel canto. According to Petri Kirkkomäki, Merikanto could be to the Finns what Puccini is to the Italians. The Finns have always loved him; the beloved compositions are melodically approachable. This year marks 150 years since the birth of Merikanto.

The evening of Finnish music wouldn’t be complete without Toivo Kuula who became known as the interpreter of the Finnish soul. This composer of late-Romantic and early-modern periods died in the aftermath of the Civil War of Finland in 1918.


Italian music feeds the Finnish soul

The baritone Petri Kirkkomäki comes regularly to Italy to perform together with the pianist Tuula Hällström. He has taken master classes at Teatro Regio in Turin and returns there again in fall 2018. Music has played an important part in Petri’s life since he was 6 years old. He studied at the Helsinki Conservatory of Music, and performed as a soloist as well as in choirs until the age of 35. Ten years ago when meeting the famous singing teacher, professor Irina Gavrilovici he experienced a rebirth of his singing career.  With Tuula Hällström, one of the leading Finnish chamber music pianists Petri has a long time cooperation giving recitals regularly. Tuula Hällström is a sought after pianist in singing competitions, in opera productions and on master classes for singing. The coloratura soprano Marika Hölttä, also a student of Irina Gavrilovici, also works regularly with Tuula Hällström. Therefore it has been natural that this trio also has started a collaboration with eachother.


When talking to Petri, one soon understands that it’s really the Italian music that feeds his soul. He listens regularly to Italian opera: Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti, while his all time favourites are Don Carlo, Macbeth and la Bohème. To the audiences he prefers to perform German lied, French mélodie or Italian canzone, such as Neapolitan songs. He is a great fan of Paolo Tosti and Ottorino Respighi. In addition to sheer musical interests, Petri feels at home in Italy. ”The sun and the warmth, the fact that the Italians are easy-going and have openness to culture are important to an artist,” he states. Moreover, to sing in such a mild temperature as Italy has feels great especially after the Finnish winter months when it can go 30 below zero.


As we live the European Year of Cultural Heritage, on the 4th of October, two will meet in Ravello: Finnish and Italian cultures. Furthermore, one shouldn’t forget how singers often recall that the most beautiful languages to sing are Italian and Finnish, both melodic and rich in vowels.


For further information, go to http://www.ravelloarts.org/festival/2018-concert-list?view=event&itid=305


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